From email and text notifications to real-time visual analytic dashboards, maintenance departments are constantly looking for new tactics geared towards reducing internal demand on the limited resources responsible for reliability and maintenance management of their company assets.
Traditional Computer Maintenance Management Systems (CMMS) have focused on guiding these efforts based on upper management priorities—inventory costs, labor costs, downtime, etc. All this data has lead to both an improved understanding of reliability process limitations and an increased awareness of the need for job specialization to best support the needs of asset management.
To address limited time of available resources, today’s managers are looking more toward technology for answers that allow them to accomplish more with less to improve their overall efficiency.
Take a look at your washing machine. In the days before this household staple existed, laundry was an all-day, draining chore. So laundry day came only a few times a year. Enter the machine: now it takes up less time and costs minimal effort, so you do laundry every week. The world smells better, and you have more time to dedicate to the rest of your household duties.
Businesses thrive on specializations, but can’t always afford to keep specialists on hand full-time. Traditional CMMS solutions do accomplish this time saving feat, but fail to solve the issue of a lack of internal specialists.
As such, many vendors for your commoditized products (e.g. fuels and lubricants) are incorporating various professional services within their portfolio of offerings. Sharing and jointly monitoring specific operational data pertinent to your vendor’s specialists will enable you to gain the insights and results associated with specialized experts without incurring the overhead costs associated with full-time employees.
Let’s say you have been struggling with frequent migraines. A CT scan reveals a life-threatening yet treatable brain tumor. No matter how confident you may be in your DIY skills, you would never rely on yourself to champion your treatment program or perform the necessary brain surgery.
Instead you would outsource this responsibility to a team of specialists, a neurologist, and a neurosurgeon—a team whose primary focus is on brain tumors and who have dedicated many years to perfecting their craft in order to improve optimal outcomes. Only after the immediate needs have been addressed, will you then resume the responsibility of maintaining your daily health needs...with periodic check ups with your specialist.
REDLIST, acting as your company’s electronic medical records database, connects you (the patient) and your medical history to your various vendors (doctors), making sure each party receives the most up to date and accurate information. Only then will you be able to work together to achieve the best possible outcome. However, knowing what information ought to be shared, how to share it, and how often to share it in order to be effective is no easy task.
REDLIST helps fill in the gaps by completing the communication loop, not only within your company, but with your external vendor’s resources.
Our platform was designed to leverage your vendor’s expertise giving you the ability to help track your daily operational data (what was done?; why was it done?; what were the results?) and securely share it with your trusted vendors.
The addition of these expert resources will result in time saved, decreased demand on already stretched resources, improved workflow processes, and an increase in overall uptime.
Companies who use heavy equipment with regular preventive maintenance requirements universally have two problems. REDLIST software solves both of them.
When it comes to project management technologies in construction, global cost consultancy and project management advisory firm Rider Levett Bucknall follows a single guiding principle: don’t tell contractors what systems they need to use.
While the company has spent the last two years creating its own back-end cost forecasting and vendor invoicing software, executives say the final decision on project management applications is best left to those who are using the technology on the front lines.
"There are so many software applications in the construction industry, and we need to conform in many ways to the technologies that the contractors are using," said Paul Brussow, Rider Levett Bucknall executive vice president of North America. "To force them to use something different creates project difficulty. The focus of any construction should be building a building, not learning new software systems."
At any given point in project execution, collaborators are depending on business development and CRM software, estimating and pre-construction software, risk management software, BIM and visualization systems, accounting and bid management software, file storage and transfer applications, billing and invoicing programs and more.
And yet while most AEC firms have invested in dozens of different applications to increase productivity and efficiency across the broad spectrum of management tasks, a significant portion of projects continues to run over schedule and over budget. For project management to advance, stakeholders say that better efforts need to be made at integrating disparate technologies together and consolidating related project tasks into single, one-click platforms.
"There’s dozens of applications. Depending on the size of the company, up to 30 applications could be installed, some off the shelf, others home-grown, and they are all cobbled together with spit and shoe polish," said Bassem Hamdy, executive vice president of marketing and enterprise strategy for construction project management software company Procore. "So there is not a lot connecting either the business processes or the systems. That’s where some of the productivity issues in construction come from."
In fact, in a Dodge Data & Analytics SmartMarket Brief published in August 2016 in partnership with project management technology firm e-Builder, 93% of industry respondents said their construction projects are still exceeding their originally established schedules, and 85% are exceeding budget.
With construction companies adopting an increasing number of project management applications, vendors and industry tech executives alike say that accessing and leveraging the enhanced collaboration tools and systems are key to gaining a significant return on investment. While most software is being designed with simple, intuitive, mobile-first user interfaces, they're no mere plug and play solutions. Project managers looking to get the most from their technologies need to make a concerted effort to drill down into intermediate and advanced level usage to improve collaboration as well as job site productivity and efficiency.
Better communication, better technology
Despite the widespread availability of collaboration tools and technologies in the construction industry, productivity is still being stifled by a lack of communication among project partners. The Dodge Data & Analytics report, for example, surveyed 170 institutional and commercial project owners, and 44% admitted to not effectively engaging with other project stakeholders.
"We see firms investing in tools and technologies, and yet they are not involved, they are not collaborating, they are not leading processes or encouraging transparency," said e-Builder CEO Ron Antevy. "Well surprise, surprise, suddenly there is no impact on the success of a project. You have to be hands on with these tools and technologies for project management to advance and become more productive."
Not long ago, communication of project management action items on the job site was powered solely by walkie-talkies. "There was a rack of Motorola radios on the wall, and that was truly how you communicated. It was very, very limited," said Charlie Smith, project manager for Chicago, IL-based Pepper Construction Group, which has moved to a consolidated communications app after finding that smart phones alone weren’t making a substantial impact on project management.
Designed specifically for deskless workers, the Zinc app offers one-button push to talk, video and file-sharing, and text in a secure system that allows administrators to organize collaborators into different workgroups while tracking information flow for receipt and compliance. According to Zinc CEO Stacey Epstein, a key aspect of the app from a project management standpoint is the ability to dispense with email and communicate with any project collaborator, regardless of whether or not their their name or cell number is known.
"We all experience communication overload, and we’ve sought to consolidate so all communication can happen in one place," Epstein said. "People on a construction site aren’t sitting around checking their email. Everyone just wants to send a text. That is just human behavior these days. It doesn’t matter the profession or the demographic — communication needs to happen in a quick and easy way that invokes a fast and short response."
At Pepper, Smith said the consolidation of communication technologies onto a single app has engaged and empowered project management teams. "The beauty is when we can marry several different technologies into one unified message, get info out quickly to people, and allow them to decide whether or not they need more information," Smith said. "It’s hard to place an ultimate value on communicating in a way that allows people to make decisions the way they can when they are as informed as they can be."
Simplification of implementationAs project management technologies continue to proliferate, vendors and AEC professionals are likely to also wrestle with improved systems integration and implementation in order to maximize productivity — and therefore maximum return on investment — from the tools they elect to adopt.
On Oct. 12, Procore announced it had expanded its App Market place to include 25 additional third-party vendors that integrate with the firm’s project management software through an open API, bringing the total of third-party integrations to 60. "Whether you are $10 million or $10 billion in volume, you don’t want to spend dollars that you don’t have on IT infrastructure to provide integration," said Hamdy of the open platform model. "Integration continues to be constructions real eye sore, and interconnectivity through a standard off-the-shelf application levels the playing field."
At Skanska USA, the North American arm of the multi-billion-dollar global construction firm enjoys an integration team that vets and debugs project management technologies before they hit the field. "As a bigger company, we do have the ability to take the time and investigate technologies before we throw them out to the masses," said Lance Borst, a superintendent in the firm’s operations office. "Integrated services test that out before it gets to us boots on the grounds operations guys."
At the Novartis Cambridge extension project, Borst and his team utilized Autodesk BIM 360 Field as the primary project management interface for the 40-plus subcontractors, architects and engineering firms on the $600 million, 900,00-square-foot build out at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. "On that job we required that key foreman have an iPad specifically to use BIM 360," Borst said. "At the end of the day if they can use it, it creates communication transparency among parties that helps with efficiency and the overall advancement of a project."
Oct. 26, 2016
5 Ways Construction Technology Is Changing The Industry
20 March 2017
Introducing new technology in the field can be cumbersome at first, especially for companies who may be stuck in defined ways of management and reporting. However, adapting to new construction technology can provide huge improvements in the industry.
In our recent State of Construction Management report, we gathered in-depth data to determine the present and future states of the construction industry. This report examined the many ways technology is changing the industry for the better and we are proud to provide a more detailed look at our findings in this post.
Daily Reporting Made Easy
By far, the biggest industry challenge reported by Superintendents, Subcontractors and General Managers is the task of daily reporting. This indicates a quickly mounting concern of staying on track with information such as updates, incident reports, critical information, and reviews. The reason for concern comes from having many items to detail in these reports but having a severe lack of time while working busy days in the field.
Fortunately, incorporating technology helps to resolve the issue of daily reporting. On-site crews have limited time to gather report sheets and writing supplies, detail important information as it comes up, all while keeping it up-to-date and organized. With new technology, those in charge of daily reports simply need to snap a few photos or take a quick voice note on their phones—minimizing reporting time and maximizing productivity.
SEE ALSO: 4 Biggest Mistakes In Daily Reporting
Language Barriers Are A Thing of the Past
When asked if language barriers impact day-to-day operations, 36% of those surveyed cited it as an issue. In construction, clear, concise, and understandable communication is key. Without it, problems large and small can arise leading to higher risk, safety issues, and a lack of transparency.
Technology has made language barriers almost non-existent. With the right software, construction terms recorded in several languages can be easily converted and translated into English, ensuring crucial information is relayed as concisely as possible.
Highly Organized Resource And Staff Management
47% of general contractors cited resource and staff management where the biggest daily challenges they faced. If there is difficulty managing staff or resources, the project may be delayed due to not having enough materials or crew. Alternatively, unnecessary costs can arise due to having too many materials and staff, leading to a lose-lose situation either way.
Currently, there are fantastic apps that make keeping track of both staff and resources simpler than ever before. This means no more slogging through paper reports that may be missing information or are not up-to-date. Apps let you keep track of everything digitally, making it easy to search and find whatever needs found in seconds, as well as updating changes just as quickly.
SEE ALSO: Contractors Increasingly Turning To Mobile TechnologyUpdates At Lightning Speed
70% of professionals polled noted updates via notes, photos, and documents were the biggest challenge in the field. With manual reporting, professionals can only hope the information documented throughout the day is as up-to-date and detailed as possible, even when there is such limited time to do so. In addition, by the time written reports reach those who need to view them, more changes may have presented themselves and the process has to start all over.
Thankfully, technology comes to the rescue again to ensure notes, photos, updates, and documents are broadcast to those who need them instantaneously. With industry-changing features like keyword notifications, whenever a crucial keyword (like ‘change order’ or ‘backorder’) is noted, the information is shared instantly, so the issues can be remedied on the spot. This leads to fewer issues on-site, dynamic communication, and a quick and steady way to meet deadlines,
Making Deadlines Easily Attainable
Speaking of deadlines, both Subcontractors and Superintendents cited them as their number one priority concern in the State of Construction Management report. Meeting deadlines is one of the most imperative tasks in construction. Deadlines simply must be met. If not, it can result in the loss of a client—present or future.
Technology’s impact on the construction industry has lead to smoother project, resource, and staff management, crystal-clear communication, easy daily reporting, and lightning-fast updates on crucial information. All of these aspects tie into a single goal: meeting deadlines safely, efficiently, and effectively.